• How can the G-20 deliver for the poor?

    Posted by Jennifer

    3 September, 2013

    Let’s take a step back and remind ourselves that the Australian election is not the only event happening in the world this weekend. 

    On Thursday and Friday, the leaders of twenty of the world’s largest economies will meet together in St Petersburg at the G-20 Leader’s Summit. 

    This forum needs to make the global tax system work for the poor. 

    Currently the system facilitates widespread tax avoidance and evasion by multinational corporations, depriving all countries of tax revenues. Citizens in developing countries suffer most from the failings of the current international tax system, as their governments are robbed of revenue which could provide essential social services and infrastructure. 

    In June, the G-8 made promising moves towards reform of the international tax system. However, they did not go far enough. The G-20 (which includes some of the major developing economies such as India, Mexico and Indonesia) is an ideal forum to address these global challenges.

    Australia’s political parties – whoever forms government after 7 September – must consider the poor when engaging with the G-20 forum.

    Given the timing of this week’s summit, it seems that Foreign Minister Bob Carr will be leading the Australian delegation to St Petersburg in the place of Prime Minister Rudd. We hope that Minister Carr will have heeded the calls of Micah Challenge, our partner agencies and our supporters to consider the poor when engaging in debates about tax system reform.

    In 2014, Australia will take on the presidency of the G-20 from Russia. This provides a perfect opportunity for Australia to show leadership in this area of tax justice. We welcome the Australian Government’s commitment to place international tax reform high on the agenda during its presidency, which will culminate with the G-20 leader’s summit in Brisbane in November 2014.

    Both at this week’s Summit, and throughout its upcoming presidency of the G-20, we urge all of Australia’s political parties (and whoever forms government after the weekend) to take a stand for the poor by:

    1. Committing to introduce legislation requiring multinational companies to report on their business activities on a country by country basis; making available information about their financial and physical activities in each jurisdiction where they operate. 

    2. Making sure that the automatic exchange of tax information between countries becomes the new global norm, and ensuring that all developing countries are able to benefit. This will help countries identify and clamp down on tax evasion and other forms of illicit capital flight. 

    3. Establishing a publicly available register which discloses the beneficial owners and controllers of companies, trusts and foundations, as well as requiring financial institutions to establish the true beneficial owners and controllers of all corporate entities with which they do business. Australia must also advocate that all OECD and G-20 nations do the same.

    For more detailed information about these three policy asks, click here.

    We’ll share more thoughts about the outcomes of the G-20 and an evaluation of progress on global tax reform next week. 


    Jennifer Vaccari is the political engagement intern at Micah Challenge.